Last month I brewed my traditional beer to use up my home-grown cascade hops. Black Mamba (the third) is a black rye imperial IPA that I have formulated (and reformulated) to emphasize my home grown hops in a beer that also fulfills my winter desire for something a little more meaty. Past attempts at this beer have not quite lived upto expectations – the first version was an unsuccessful brew day that was lacking in the imperial department. The second version had the imperial down pat, but had too many roast notes and too much body, hiding much of the hop character. A few additional tweaks gives us this years batch – Black Mamba the III – reduced the dark malts and used sugar to dry out the beer…and it worked!
Appearance: Black as a politicians soul with an off-brown head. Shades of garnet can be seen on the edges if caught in the right light. Head is corse, and falls quickly into a layer of bubbles that persists for the rest of the pint.
Aroma: Mix of hop resin and hop herbalness. Hints of chocolate appear in the background and become more apparent as the pint warms.
Flavour: The malt note is a mild chocolate note with minimal roastiness. The rye adds a spice character is present but not overwhelming. The big flavour is a bold hop resin note, with herbal hop notes in the background. The citrus character cascade is known for is missing – but this seems to be a terroir “issue” as other local brewers have also mentioned their cascades skew towards resin and herbal, rather than citrus. After taste is a lingering hop bitterness and a resin note that sticks to the back of the mouth.
Mouthfeel: Pretty unique. The beer is dry, but the rye imparts its own thickness to the beer that counteracts this somewhat. Upfront the beer is whetting, but it leaves a modest dryness in the aftertaste.
Overall: I’m getting pretty close to my original vision for this beer. My home grown hops are in the fore, but are backed by a nice black IPA and rye character that is great in the winter months. The only thing I could see changing is adding a very slight touch of a mid-rage crystal malt to ad a touch of sweetness.